It was hard enough to get Donald Trump to even acknowledge that some Americans are Muslims.
That seems like an overly simplified thing to say, but the fact is that Republicans like to pretend Islam is a thing that exists in some dark corner of the world, practiced by barbaric tribes of dirt farmers and goat herders, rather than the third-largest religion in the United States, behind Christianity and Judaism.
So although it’s still small, it is growing — there are more Muslims, for example, than there are NRA members — and government, specifically the presidency, should address the concerns of Americans of all stripes. Republicans don’t want to do that, but Trump really doesn’t want to do that because he doesn’t just ignore American Muslims out of inconvenience. He pretends they don’t exist because he desperately wants to paint all Muslims as terrorists.
So that’s the backdrop for the fact that in Trump’s first year, he refused to honor the 20+ year tradition of a White House Iftar — the dinner that Muslims have at sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. In 2018, Trump held the dinner, but largely excluded American Muslims, preferring instead to host diplomats from countries “with large Muslim populations,” because that helps keep the idea of there being a significant population of them here in this country more remote than if he invited American Muslim leaders.
But this year, his exclusion of American Muslims from the annual White House Iftar was felt even more deeply by the Muslim community, who have been watching as Trump and the entire Republican apparatus in Washington, DC relentlessly attacks the most prominent Muslims in the country — elected members of Congress who, to some US followers of Islam, feel like their first connection to the fabric of American society.
GOP attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, both symbols of not just Muslim representation but of the embrace of powerful women in that religion, have been constant since the results of the midterm election.
It makes sense, then, that Trump would speak only briefly at the dinner, keeping it as scripted as possible as he thanked “many of the ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps representing countries with large Muslim populations.”
Frankly, we’re amazed he even bothers to hold the Iftar at all.
Featured image is a screen capture.